Buffon upbeat despite defeat

03 September 2017 08:36:20 EST

Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon insists Italy can still qualify for the 2018 World Cup despite Saturday's 3-0 defeat to Spain.

The 39-year-old Juventus shot-stopper was unable to stop Spain romping to an easy win in Madrid and the Azzurri are now three points behind the Group G leaders.

However, Buffon is upbeat about Italy's chances of being in Russia, even if they are involved in the play-offs.

"We believe and hope to go to the World Cup," Buffon said.

"There is a year ahead of us, there will be training camps to refine certain mechanisms. There are values in this squad that don't always emerge."

Andrea Barzagli agreed with Buffon's assessment, saying: "It was difficult, we knew that, and the quality of all their [Spain] individual players emerged.

"But we mustn't lose faith in our journey, as we still need to do what's necessary to reach the World Cup. We should have done better, however we continue to believe in what we're doing and focus on reaching the play-offs.

"That second place isn't mathematically locked down yet, so the next game with Israel is going to be fundamental. We must prepare and win."

Italy are 1/9 to beat Isreal on Tuesday while they are 2/5 to keep a clean sheet in the qualifier.

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